Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should i bring?

A: Whilst there is a lovey beach to sunbathe and swim we also recommend that you should also bring warm clothes as it can be cool on the island especially with the prevailing sea breeze. Bring your swimming costume and a towel because there's a great beach on the island

Q:Can i purchase food?

A:Please bring your own food if you plan on spending the whole day on the island. If you're planning to visit for half a day bring a drink and a snack.
There are no shops on the island but you can purchase snacks  and drinks on the ferry

Q: How long should i spend on the island?

A: Depending on the time of year you can spend a whole day or half a day. Please check our departure times as they vary from season to season. If you have time you can walk the full loop track around the island. This takes approximatley 2 / 3hours and can be done on a half day visit.

Q: What if i have a disability

A: We don’t recommend Quail for anyone in a wheelchair because the tracks are relatively steep and can get muddy depending on the weather. In addition the jetty steps are a bit steep for those in a wheelchair.


Tour Highlights

Download your very own handy tourmap here Quail Island Information Map

  1. Walkway The Quail Island Walkway starting at the new wharf offers a circumference walk (2 hours round trip), and a shorter one-hour option. The easy walk takes in a view of the shipwrecks, leprosy graves and the kennels used for Scott's quarantined dogs.
  2. Volcanic Cliffs There are excellent examples of volcanic cliffs, which show how the island was formed 16 million years ago.
  3. The Wards Settlement The Ward brothers bought part of Quail Island in 1851 and erected a small cottage. They farmed the island for just 2 months before tragedy struck; the 2 brothers where drowned taking firewood to the island.
  4. Ballast Quarries Early sailing ships arriving into Lyttelton often had to load up on return journeys with ballast rocks to keep their ships stable. Two sites on the island can be seen where tonnes of rock was taken from 1850 -1874.
  5. Shipwrecks Investigate 8 shipwrecks, which can be seen on the western side of the island.
  6. Leprosy Colony In 1907 the island was home to the first and only leprosy colony in New Zealand. One lonely soul died here and his grave can be viewed on the island. Up to 9 patients were housed here at its peak.
  7. Antarctic Links Robert Falcon Scott used Quail Island for quarantining and training dogs, ponies and mules for his Antarctic expeditions in 1901 and again prior to his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1910. A replica kennel can be seen. Ernst Shackleton also used the island for this purpose in 1907.
  8. Human and Animal Quarantines In 1874 a quarantine station was built to isolate those immigrants who had spent 3 months at sea in cramped conditions with lack of fresh food and exercise. These conditions increased chances of disease and sickness. All imported stock from England had to be quarantined before arriving in Lyttelton.
  9. Maori Use The island was used for the collection of food - seabird eggs and fishing mostly by Maori children. The Maori name for the island is Otamahua, which means 'place to gather sea-bird eggs'.
  10. The Quails In 1842, the first European to set foot on the island, Captain Mein Smith, flushed a number of now-extinct native quail from the bush and named the island after the birds.

For more information on Quail Island see